St. Jude children's hospital receives historic $50M donation, plans major developments

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, has received a historic $50 million donation from AbbVie, a research-based globally biopharmaceutical company.

The money will be used to support the construction of a new Family Commons on the St. Jude campus. It will be a treatment-free floor that gives families a space to relax and recover, while staying close to their loved ones who are being treated.

The funding will also be used to add a walking path, gardens and a playground that is accessible for children going through treatment, along with their siblings.

“At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, we work to ensure patients and their families have the very best experience possible,” said James R. Downing, M.D., St. Jude president and CEO. “As we asked families how we could further enhance the environment, many of them told us they would appreciate a space away from the medical setting — a place that offers them family time, creative outlets, resources and opportunities to socialize with other families. The Family Commons area will do just that.”

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The Family Commons floor is already under construction and is expected to open in 2020. The design was made after extensive research into the best ways to deliver care, including interviews with St. Jude patients and their families.

The design will include:

  • A new preschool program with expanded resources for patients and family members, allowing them to accelerate their learning at an early age and keep pace with their peers back home;
  • An open play area including an outdoor patio, living room area and 19 custom-built resting nooks that offer privacy and lounge space;
  • A private area offering coffee, snacks and a general store for patient families to reconnect and recharge;
  • Centralized patient and concierge services to meet the various unique needs of families including housing, transportation, food and care coordination, allowing parents to focus on their child's care; and
  • A Parent Share Area for families to get non-clinical answers from other St. Jude parents.

“Families need to be able to take a break during one of the most difficult times of their lives, and that’s why we’re committing to create spaces — both indoor and outdoor — for families to be together,” said Laura Schumacher, executive vice president, external affairs, general counsel and corporate secretary at AbbVie. “As a company committed to helping families thrive, we stand behind St. Jude, a global leader in the fight against childhood cancer.”

The AbbVie donation will cover construction of the Family Commons and outdoor space, along with five years of operational costs for both. AbbVie has donated a total of $350 million in charitable contributions in 2018 to nonprofit organizations.

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